Illinois Vision 20/20 Creates a 21st Century Learning Center

Illinois Vision 20/20, which includes the Illinois PTA as a supporting partner, has created a new resource for high school students, the 21st Century Learning Center. The learning center is currently hosted on iTunes U and provides over 1,100 digital resources aligned to the New Illinois Learning Standards in four core subjects:

  • English/Language Arts (grouped for grades 9-10 and 11-12)
  • Mathematics (Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry
  • Science (Biology, Chemistry, and Physics)
  • Social Studies (Economics)

The collection was developed with the assistance of 22 Illinois high schools from across the state. Every item has been vetted by content leaders and curriculum specialists before being added to the site. The resources can be used by teachers to incorporate into their lesson plans, by parents to help support their children, and by students to master specific concepts that they may be struggling with. There is no cost to subscribe to the collections, but there may be an occasional paid app suggested for a particular activity.

While the learning center currently requires an iTunes account, plans for the future include making the content device- and platform-independent. Materials for kindergarten through eighth grade are in the initial development stages, and additional courses will be added to the high school materials as well.

The Illinois Vision 20/20 21st Century Learning Center is another example of how standards that are aligned across states results in increasing innovative education and support materials that can help students from across the country, much like the Howard County (MD) Public School System’s Family Mathematics Support Center can be used by Illinois families to support their children.

A Summer of Legislative Success for the Children of Illinois

The Illinois PTA is pleased to announce another success on Illinois PTA-supported legislation: Senate Bill 1793, Suicide Awareness Policy, was signed into law by Governor Rauner on August 21, 2015. Now known as Public Act 99-0443 or Ann Marie’s Law, requires that the State Board of Education:

  • Develop a model youth suicide awareness and prevention policy in consultation with an Illinois youth suicide prevention organization and organizations representing school boards and personnel.
  • Compile, develop, and publicly post online recommended guidelines and educational materials for training and professional development as well as recommended resources and age-appropriate educational materials on youth suicide awareness and prevention.
  • The model policy is to include a statement on youth suicide awareness and prevention; protocols for education of staff and students; prevention methods, including procedures for early identification and referral of at-risk students; methods of intervention; response methods; reporting procedures; and recommended resources, including contact information.

Beginning with the 201-2016 school year, each school board is to review and update its current suicide awareness and prevention policy or adopt an age-appropriate youth suicide awareness and prevention policy consistent with this statute, and inform employees and parents of enrolled students of this policy.

The guidelines and resources provided by Ann Marie’s Law have been needed for some time: according to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide has been the 3rd leading cause of death of Illinois children aged 10 years to 21 years old for at least a decade.

The Illinois PTA wrote directly to Governor Rauner urging his signature on this Bill and several others. Additional legislative successes this spring on bills that the Illinois PTA has supported include legislation in the areas of Children’s Health and Safety, Education Issues, and Juvenile Justice, noted below:

Children’s Health and Safety

  • Senate Bill 7, the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act, now Public Act 99-2455, will further protect Illinois youth should they experience a concussion by providing post-concussion screening and treatment prior to returning to play in both scholastic and park district organized athletics. In the past, even with recognized return-to-play standards for concussions and head injuries, some affected youth athletes were prematurely returned to play. This statute updates the safety protocols currently in place to better prevent these injuries, and to further ensure the appropriate treatment and oversight of concussion of youth athletes. Concussions are one of the most commonly reported injuries in children and adolescents who participate in sports and recreational activities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that as many as 3.9 million sports and recreation related concussions occur in the USA annually.
  • Senate Bill 9, the Powdered Caffeine Control and Education Act, now Public Act 99-00250, prohibits anyone from selling, offering to sell, giving or providing free samples of powdered pure caffeine to anyone under the age of 18 in Illinois in order to protect their health and safety. A single teaspoon of this substance may contain as much caffeine as 25 cups of coffee. As you may be aware from information provided in a recent Illinois PTA Resolution, caffeine can be a dangerous substance. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the consumption of caffeine and related stimulants by children and adolescents.
  • House Bill 217 (HB217), the Youth Mental Health Protection Act, now known as Public Act 99-0411, protects Illinois youth under the age of 18 from conversion therapy or sexual orientation change efforts by mental health professionals. According to well-respected professional associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association, conversion therapy is never recommended and may increase depression and anxiety. This may result in increased rates of substance abuse and self-destructive behavior, including suicide. This statute provides for penalties to anyone found to be in its violation.

Education

  • House Bill 2657, Educator Licensure (an Illinois Vision 20/20 bill), now Public Act 99-0058, will allow Illinois school districts to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers and administrators, regardless of the state where individuals received their initial educator license. In addition, this amends the school code to provide that the institute fund may also be used by the State Superintendent of Education to support educator recruitment and retention programs and to provide professional development.
  • House Bill 2683, the Multiple Measure Index Bill, now known as Public Act 99-0193, also an Illinois Vision 20/20 bill, requires that the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) develop a system of reward standards for student performance and school improvement for all school districts and their individual schools for those schools that meet specified criteria. The student performance segment will focus on student outcomes and closing the achievement gap within each school district and its individual schools using a Multiple Measure Index and Annual Measurable Objectives set forth in this statute. Rewards will be developed for those schools and school districts which:
    • are high-poverty, high-performing schools that are closing achievement gaps and excelling in academic achievement;
    • have sustained high performance;
    • have substantial growth performance over the 3 years preceding the year in which recognition is awarded;
    • have demonstrated the most progress compared to other schools in Illinois in closing the achievement gap.

Juvenile Justice

  • House Bill 2567 (HB2567) now Public Act 99-0254, amends the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 to provide that a child under the age of 13 shall not be admitted, kept, or detained in a detention facility unless:
    • a local youth service provider has been contacted, and
    • the local youth service provider is unable to accept the child. 
  • House Bill 3718 (HB3718), now Public Act 99-0258, amends the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 to expand juvenile court discretion over the important decision to try children in adult court by limiting automatic transfer, now triggered by age and charged offense. As of January 1, 2016, the juvenile court will have the discretion to make the transfer decision after hearing both sides of the case and reviewing the rehabilitative services available to the youth.

Looking Forward

What lies ahead? The Illinois PTA will continue to advocate for our children on issues concerning education issues, including education funding, children’s health and safety, environmental concerns, juvenile justice issues, as well as on active Resolutions concerning Special Education Issues, Energy Drinks and the Choking Game.

How can you help? Join the Illinois PTA Takes Action Network to stay engaged on Illinois issues!

Questions concerning advocacy issues? Contact Illinois PTA Legislative Advocacy Director Lisa Garbaty.

Governor Signs Two More Illinois PTA-Supported Bills

Governor Rauner continues to take action on bills that were passed by the legislature this past spring, including two more that were supported by the Illinois PTA.

Multiple Measure Index Bill

House Bill 2683, the Multiple Measure Index Bill, now known as Public Act 99-0193, was signed into law on July 30, 2015 by Governor Rauner.

As a result of Public Act 99-0193, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) will develop a system of reward standards for student performance and school improvement for all school districts and their individual schools for those schools that meet specified criteria.

For schools, the ISBE will implement a system of rewards for those schools and school districts that recognizes:

  • High-poverty, high-performing schools that are closing achievement gaps and excelling in academic achievement;
  • Schools that have sustained high performance;
  • Schools that have substantial growth performance over the 3 years preceding the year in which recognition is awarded;
  • Schools that have demonstrated the most progress compared to other schools in Illinois in closing the achievement gap.

The student performance segment will focus on student outcomes and closing the achievement gap within each school district and its individual schools using a Multiple Measure Index and Annual Measurable Objectives set forth in this statute. This will include the school’s performance in terms of both academic success (including measures of college and career readiness) and equity (including the academic growth and college and career readiness of each school’s subgroups of students).

This was one of several bills endorsed by Illinois Vision 20/20. The Illinois PTA is a supporter of Illinois Vision 20/20, including the vision that Illinois adopt a differentiated accountability model that focuses on continuous improvement, recognizes the diversity of struggling schools, and eliminates achievement gaps across the state. The Illinois PTA platform includes support for the use of a growth-based accountability model when reporting student assessment and the measurement of school success as required by federal mandate and in conjunction with state mandated assessments.

Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act

Additional safety protections for young athletes are now law: Senate Bill 7, the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act, is now Public Act 99-2455, signed by Governor Rauner on August 3, 2015. With the enactment of this law, Illinois youth will be further protected should they experience a concussion by providing post-concussion screening and treatment prior to returning to play in both scholastic and park district organized athletics.

Concussions are one of the most commonly reported injuries in children and adolescents who participate in sports and recreational activities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that as many as 3,900,000 sports-related and recreation-related concussions occur in the USA annually. Continuing to play with a concussion or symptoms of a head injury leaves a young athlete especially vulnerable to greater injury and even death.

Even with recognized return-to-play standards for concussions and head injuries, some affected youth athletes are prematurely returned to play. This statute updates the safety protocols currently in place to better prevent these injuries and to further ensure the appropriate treatment and oversight of concussion of youth athletes.

Join the Take Action Network

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Advocacy in Action—Legislative Update

Every Child Achieves Act

Thank you to those in our membership who took action on the Every Child Achieves Act and the proposed Family Engagement Amendments to that bill. With our combined advocacy efforts, the Every Child Achieves Act (previously known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA/No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)) has passed the Senate.

The Every Child Achieves Act now includes a number of family engagement provisions, including the reauthorization of the Parental Information and Resource Centers (PIRC) program as Statewide Family Engagement Centers which will provide states and districts with the capacity to support effective implementation and enhancement of family engagement policies. As we know from decades of research, children are more likely to succeed in school when their families are engage in their education.

The legislation also encourages districts to dedicate more than 1% of Title I funding to family engagement efforts and ensures that early learning programs prioritize family engagement. In addition to strengthening family engagement, the Every Child Achieves Act creates a federal Student Privacy Policy Commission to make recommendations to safeguard student data and supports student access to digital learning resources at home to address the “homework gap.” There remains some committee work ahead to consolidate the House and Senate bills before it can become law. We will continue to keep you updated.

Illinois Legislation

On a local level, we are pleased to announce that two bills supported by the Illinois PTA were signed into law by Governor Rauner over the past week.

  • Senate Bill 9 – Powdered Caffeine Control and Education Act, now Public Act 99-0021, prohibits anyone from selling, offering to sell, giving or providing free samples of powdered pure caffeine to anyone under the age of 18 in Illinois in order to protect their health and safety. A single teaspoon of this substance may contain as much caffeine as 25 cups of coffee. As you may be aware from information provided in a recent Illinois PTA Resolution, caffeine can be a dangerous substance; the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the consumption of caffeine and related stimulants by children and adolescents. The Illinois PTA wrote directly to Governor Rauner explaining the basis for our support, and urging him to sign SB 9 into law.
  • House Bill 2657 – Educator Licensure (Vision 20/20), now Public Act 99-0058, will allow Illinois school districts to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers and administrators, regardless of the state where individuals received their initial educator license. In addition, this amends the school code to provide that the institute fund may also be used by the State Superintendent of Education to support educator recruitment and retention programs and to provide professional development. This was one of several bills endorsed by Illinois Vision 20/20, of which the Illinois PTA is a supporter.

Thank you for your Advocacy in Action!